I cannot hear the song Missing you by John Waite on the radio without instantly being transported back to eighth grade. All that song does is remind me of school dances held during the afternoons at our junior high, and my fruitless quest to be asked to slow dance to this particular song. Oh, the angst.
Sadly, that's about the extent of my junior high boy angst. I wasn't one of those golden girls who clutched notes filled with intrigue and the inevitable "Will you go with me? Circle yes, no or maybe." I was the girl with the unfortunate Pat Benatar haircut, a dire need for braces, and oversized eighties glasses with a sparkly heart affixed to the lower corner of my lens. Any notes I clutched typically held plans of buying gummie strawberries at the local store, a few issues of Tiger Beat and then riding the ten speed bike home to peruse the glossy pages and tear out mini posters of Duran Duran and Ricky Schroeder.
I remember one eighth grade couple in particular, Jenny and Ryan. They were the king and queen of my junior high and had been going together for, well, forever. At least four months. Ryan was in my art class, and I sat at the large square table with the other cool kids (I was never really a cool kid but always their friend. I think they had a rule to always include one nerdy girl). All these shiny haired, lip-glossed, sparkly kids would analyze the latest developments in the Jenny/Ryan saga. I would listen intently, chewing on my Chapsticked lip, wondering when I would be able to wear makeup and would it ever look as good as it did on these kids?
One scene in particular has stayed with me all these years. I thought it was the most romantic interlude between a boy and a girl, bar none. It was my The Way We Were or Love Story. Ryan had asked Jenny to go with him after weeks, weeks I tell you, of deliberation and group discussion with the coolness roundtable in art class. Jenny of course knew all about this and played it cool, never flinching in her Esprit sweater or LJ Simone loafers, her mesh Madonna hand glove never absorbing a bead of sweat (I was certain of this, since my hands were constantly slick, and practically drenched my Trapper Keeper when I passed a boy who made my heart beat Like a Virgin).
Jenny had the note with Ryan's declaration of pubescent love and had the wherewithal to not read it until she boarded her bus after school. This alone cemented her as queen in my book. How, how was she able to not tear open the lined paper note the instant his handsome hands gave it to her? How was she able to coyly slide it in her Peechee and not break stride on her way to class? These were gifts I feared would never be bestowed upon me. As Jenny's bus pulled away from the school, she leaned out the window and called to Ryan, her hair blowing in the breeze. Yes, yes I'll go with you! she shouted from her departing bus, the Sea Breeze scented crowd on the curb bursting into cheers as Ryan grinned and walked away.
Sigh. It was beautiful.
Now, many years later, my own daughter is one of the golden girls. There is drama, intrigue, the class king to her queen. There are tears over notes passed that were forged by frenemies (Mom! She asked him how much he liked me on a scale of one to ten and she FORGED his writing to make it look like a...*sob*...FOUR. I hate her!) and I am left standing in the kitchen, mildly annoyed over the drama, wondering when she'll grow out of it, slightly in awe, and totally useless.